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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Erdogan Calls for Reinstatement of Death Penalty in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
"I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the what is needed concerning your demands for capital punishment."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that he expects parliament to move to allow capital punishment - a change that could officially end Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the anniversary of a World War I campaign, Erdogan focused on the current political climate rather than historical successes.

"The families of the martyrs, the heroes [those killed as a result of a failed July 15 coup attempt] don't need to worry," he said as quoted from the rally by the French Press Agency. "I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the what is needed concerning your demands for capital punishment."

The EU has long said that reinstating capital punishment in Turkey, which was outlawed there in 2004, would be the end of Turkey's decades-long bid to join the bloc.

Tensions with Europe already are high as Turkey prepares for the April 16 referendum, which would broaden president Erdogan’s powers. 

Turkish officials have been campaigning among emigre Turks in Germany and the Netherlands to promote the referendum. 

Many of the scheduled rallies were canceled by German and Dutch leaders, resulting in various spats - including Erdogan referring to the Netherlands as "Nazi remnants".

In addition to damaging Turkey's chances of joining the EU, the diplomatic crisis threatens a deal agreed upon by the two sides last year that is aimed at alleviating the refugee crisis in Europe.

The ceremony, at which Erdogan spoke, marked the anniversary of what the Turkish people call the Canakkale battle, one of the greatest Ottoman victories during World War I and a defining moment in Turkish history.

Saturday's celebrations also featured the beginning of construction on what would be the world's largest suspension bridge, as announced by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Source: VOA, March 18, 2017


Erdoğan pushes to restore death penalty


Turks vote to expand executive powers in next month’s constitutional referendum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he expects the Turkish parliament to restore the death penalty after a referendum next month to expand his executive powers.

“I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the necessary concerning your demands for capital punishment,” Erdoğan said in at rally on Saturday, AFP reported.

It is the first time the Turkish president has called on MPs to approve such a bill, AFP reported. It is up to parliament to propose a bill on the death penalty which would still need to be signed by Erdoğan. “When it comes to me I will approve it without hesitation,” he added.

Erdoğan has been campaigning to restore capital punishment since a failed military coup in July last year. The death penalty was abolished in 2004 as a condition for Ankara to join the European Union.

EU foreign ministers warned after the failed coup that restoring capital punishment would block accession talks with Turkey.

Source: politico, Quentin Ariès, March 18, 2017

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